Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Australia is like a storybook – of freshly mown green grass and lazy wallabies drinking water from a makeshift basin and nibbling food from your hand, under enchanting purple jacaranda trees.
My husband and I paid an entrance fee of $38 (RM 108) each to visit the sanctuary in Fig Tree Pocket, Brisbane. It’s cheaper if you buy the tickets on Klook. Thankfully, my very cool sister-in-law and her husband managed to get it from there. If you buy it at the entrance, they’re $45 (RM 128) each.
We cuddled a koala, watched a raptor show, a sheepdog show, watched some dingoes and played with some kangaroos. This sanctuary is pretty interactive – it allows you to play with some of the animals, and experience life with them.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is open every day from 9AM to 5PM, but I’d suggest going later in the day instead of killing yourself trying to wake up early. You’d think there would be less people in the morning, but most tours (in our case, it was a lot of schoolchildren from different countries) start early and finish after lunch.
So, there are fewer people from noon to evening, which means you can stroll around leisurely and play with the kangaroos for as long as you like. Parking is free and abundant, so you shouldn’t have to worry. You can take an Uber to Lone Pine too.
Free-range feeding (kangaroos, emus & wallabies)
We bought 3 packets of kangaroo food ($2 per packet) from the general store to feed the kangaroos with. PS: They’re more likely to want to play with you if you feed them – they’re just like humans, in one way!
Besides kangaroos, there are emus (really big and friendly land birds) and wallabies (they look like kangaroos, but they’re not, and also much lazier). Maybe it was a really hot day, but it wasn’t that bad, just hotter than the usual 13 degrees. The wallabies are kind of hidden, though. See if you can spot them hanging out in their own circle of friendship, plotting world domination. The emus also tend to wander about, so you can probably take a picture with one. They look scary but they’re nice birdy creatures who won’t bother you if you don’t bother them. The animals here are a pretty tame lot.
I wouldn’t normally say this but I think it’s an important tip – wear a pair of shoes you don’t really care about. Like, sandals or silicone shoes are best. At the free-range feeding zone, there is a hell lot of poop. You need to be careful, but accidents can happen, so I’m just trying to help you out here. I’m glad I chose to wear my RM10 shoes from Cotton On over my best sandals – nothing happened but I’m like Monica from Friends. You’ll get it if you watch the show.
Cuddle-a-Koala & Koala Science Lab
The one you’ve all been waiting for! You get to take a picture and cuddle a cute koala for $25. Personally, I think it’s pretty pricey because you get less than a minute with the koala. It’s only worth it if you really want a picture professionally taken with a koala, because what’s a visit to Australia without one? I got one, of course, but I think my husband expected to spend more time with the koala. He was not thrilled with the experience and preferred hanging out with the kangaroos. Anyway, it’s a lot of money if your currency is small and your wife can’t do currency math.
There are also a few free sessions where you get to pat a koala on the back while a keeper holds them in place. It’s not the same as cuddling a koala, though. At least you’ll know how fluffy these sleepy creatures are (so soft!). They’re sleeping on the trees most of the time, so if you can spot one that’s awake, you’re lucky! There are only 30 minutes before any koala session ends because we don’t want to stress out these creatures.
Meanwhile, the sanctuary has a dedicated Koala Science Lab where you can learn all about their diet, life cycle, and habits (mostly sleeping).
Something really cool about the sanctuary…
I didn’t take a picture but I remember that I was really enraptured by the descriptions of the animals. Like, they make regular birds sound really interesting. I’m sure all birds are pretty interesting to bird-lovers, but as a non-bird lover, the descriptions were pretty spot-on One thing’s for sure, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary hired a badass writer and paid him/her well.
So, in total, we spent about:
$38 (entrance fee) + $25 (cuddle-a-koala) + $15 (food, we had fish & chips to share, it was just okay) + $6 (kangaroo food) + $10 (souvenirs) = $94 (RM 269)
Okay, it was pretty expensive. I would never do this in my non-Australian life, but you don’t need to spend on everything. I’m also really bad at converting from one currency to another, so I can’t really see the numbers in my head. I think my husband could, but he also got carried away when he hung out with the kangaroos.
I think it’s safe to mention that there are wild koalas in Australian forests (you’ll see the signs at almost every highway), but you can’t touch them, obvs. After the forest fires, reports mentioned that the koala population may be, but it is not yet confirmed, functionally extinct. I believe the people at Lone Pine and other koala sanctuaries will do everything in their power to protect Australia’s most adorable bears. Anyway, Australia was cool and you can’t not go here without cuddling koalas.